Black Sunday has hot the college football world. As happens every year, coaches are usually relieved of their duties on the Sunday following the last game of the year. This year was no different except for the casualties.
Gene Chizik proved once again “karma” can certainly be a persistent factor with the coaching profession. Chizik left Iowa State after only two seasons for Auburn and a National Championship in 2010 amid upset fans for both the Cyclones and Tigers. Chizik’s record was a paltry 5-19 in Ames and lost the last 10 games of his first head coaching job.
Yet that was good enough to get him the job in the SEC with Auburn. Chizik entered Auburn and immediately began recruiting a little known Junior college quarterback named Cam Newton from Blinn College. Amid all the controversy, Chizik withstood the pressure and Newton led the Tigers to the National championship in 2010.
Yet wrapped around that season were a pair of 8-5 seasons around the national title. The Tigers were 7-17 in SEC games outside of 2010 during his tenure. Yet this season Chizik fell upon hard times, posting a record of 3-9 and Auburn had enough. Especially after the Tigers lost to arch-rival Alabama 49-0 Saturday.
To measure just how far the program has slipped, Auburn’s record was the worst slide within two years of winning a national championship of any team since the Associated Press poll started in 1936. The Tigers also hadn’t lost this many games since going 0-10 in 1950. The decision came 17 months after Auburn gave Chizik a contract worth some $3.5 million annually through 2015 with a hefty buyout.
Meanwhile, just south, Arkansas also has made a coaching change. After the Bobby Petrino fiasco in July, John L. Smith bolted from his Alma mater Weber State after 4 months on the job and took over the Razorbacks position. This lasted less than one season and Smith is out after leading the team to a disappointing 4-8 record, 2-6 in the SEC.
Both coaches have something in common. They ran from a head coaching post to another at a more prominent school without finishing the job at their previous employer. This switch brings with it a recruiting nightmare. How can a coach sit in the living room of a possible player and when asked “will you be here my entire four years, unlike your previous job?,” how would Chizik and Smith answer that?
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly left an unbeaten team in Cincinnati before their bowl game after the 2009 to take the Irish job. Kelly’s Beacats reeled off 12 straight victories and finished the regular season undefeated. Going into the bowl season, they were ranked #3 in the BCS Standings and faced Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Kelly did not coach the team because of his departure to Notre Dame. Cincinnati eventually lost that game. Now Kelly is rewarded with a National championship bid. This is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Players cannot leave their school without a one or two year ban, depending on where they go. Meanwhile coaches can leave and not miss a beat. Previous schools have no recourse and teams like Arkansas, Auburn and Notre Dame have their pick of the litter. It’s the “rich getting richer” scheme in college football.
Coaches should be held to a higher standard. Contracts are signed, yet if a coach leaves early how can a player be expected to remain? Escape clauses should be enforced and coaches be made to fulfill their contract or face a coaching ban from other schools unless fired or the contract term is over.
This would open the coaching profession to others and be minority friendly. Something the NCAA needs more of.